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Using Natural Fertilisers

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 9 Oct 2014 | comments*Discuss
Natural Chemical Fertiliser Compost

If you care about the environment and wish to help maintain its complex eco-system, then one way you can do so is to stop using chemical fertilisers in your garden and switch to natural organics instead.

What Is Natural Fertiliser?

Natural fertiliser, in its most basic form, is anything organic that is broken down from purely natural materials which can then be used to feed plants. It can derive from such things as manure, bone, kelp, or cotton and which is generally a by-product of a former process such as animal rendering or cotton harvesting.

Chemical fertilisers are often derived from industrial processes involving the production of petroleum with the chemicals therefore being manufactured from non-renewable sources.

What Does ‘Organic’ Mean?

There are several uses of the word organic. Sometimes it is used in a generalised way to mean ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘green’ or kinder to the earth in some way and within this context it can often also mean that man-manufactured chemicals are not used.

In terms of fertilisers, organic also denotes that the way in which matter breaks down in that it requires some kind of soil action.

What’s Wrong With Chemical Fertilisers?

Chemical fertilisers can be cheap, effective and are applied in a form that makes them immediately bio-available to the plant – so above all, they are convenient.

Most often, they are mixed with water which allows the plant to take up the chemicals (for instance nitrates, phosphates, potash, and additional micronutrients) straight away.

The disadvantage of this is that it is very easy to use too much fertiliser, handing out a chemical over-dose, and it is just as easy for it to be washed away because they come in a water-soluble form. The chemicals will then naturally leach into the soil, where they can alter the delicate balance of its micro-climate.

One way they do this is that chemical fertilizers tend to contain salt, which is too harsh for the surrounding soil and kills many of the microorganisms found there. The intrinsic soil quality is then altered to the extent that the plants become dependent on the applied food and not on the soil itself. This can be the thin end of the wedge towards a chemical overload when the plant becomes less resistant to disease and a secondary chemical is used to deal with subsequent problems.

What Are The Advantages Of Organic Fertilisers?

Whereas chemical fertilisers are water-soluble, natural, or organic fertilisers are not. They need bacteria, fungi, and the microbes present in good soil, to first break the natural matter down and convert it into a chemical form the plant can take up.

This process is slower and steadier, meaning that food is available to the plant as and when it needs it, rather than being ‘sloshed’ on and gone again. The plants rarely get over-fed this way and the feeding is evenly spread across the year with more moisture also being retained in the microbe-rich soil. Research has shown that the plants are less stressed and healthier if fed in this way.

Make Your Own Natural Fertiliser

It is very easy to make your own organic natural fertiliser by simply composting your waste and encouraging insect and wildlife in your garden. The rich humus which is created – or ‘living soil’ – is the perfect environment for plants, in which they can thrive.

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